After losing a three-run ninth-inning lead, the 4th-ranked UC San Diego baseball rallied for an 8-7 win on Garrett Imeson’s walk-off RBI single to center field as the Tritons captured the 2009 California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament Championship on Saturday afternoon at Palm Springs Stadium.
It was UCSD’s second-ever tournament title after a 2005 tournament championship. “It was a gutsy win for us as we kept punching back,” said head coach Dan O’Brien.
“Capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes is what we have done all year.” Vance Albitz was named the CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Player as Albitz was a constant force at the top of the lineup and using his gold glove defense at shortstop.
Imeson’s game-winning hit capped a two-run rally after Sonoma State (32-14) scored four times in the top half of the inning to take a 7-6 lead and gave UC San Diego (36-12) its second CCAA Tournament title.
The victory also gives UC San Diego the CCAA’s automatic berth into the Division II NCAA Tournament. The Tritons, along with Sonoma State, which is expected to receive an at-large bid, will learn their opponent when the field is announced on Sunday.
Kellen Lee started the Tritons’ winning rally with an opposite field home run over the right-center field fence that knotted the score at 7-7. Following an infield out, tournament Most Valuable Player Vance Albitz singled through the left side and Josh Tanner followed with a single into right field setting the stage for Imeson’s heroics.
With UC San Diego closer Guido Knudson on the mound for the Tritons, Sonoma State sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four times before Daniel Simmons came out of the bullpen to record the final out of the ninth inning.
The Seawolves opened the frame with three straight singles, before Ian Bridges singled in a pair of runs to make it a one-run game. Danny Pignataro tied the game with a sacrifice fly and Mark Pestorich gave Sonoma State its first lead of the game with single up the middle that scored Kris Haycock with the go-ahead run.
The lead was shortlived, however, as Taylor Lewis came out of the Sonoma State bullpen and was unable to hold the lead.
Kendall Davis started for the Seawolves and was in line for the victory after pitching eight innings, surrendering eight hits, six runs (five earned), walking one and striking out five.
2009 All-CCAA Tournament TeamCatcher: Travis Tartamella (Cal State L.A.)
First Base: Brandon Gregorich (UC San Diego)
Second Base: Garrett Imeson (UC San Diego)
Third Base: Josh Tanner (UC San Diego)
Shortstop: Vance Albitz (UC San Diego)
Outfield: Matt Miraldi (Cal State L.A.)
Outfield: Kyle Jones (Sonoma State)
Outfield: Robert Sedin (UC San Diego)
Designated Hitter: Ryan Stevens (Sonoma State)
Pitcher: Gary Moran (Sonoma State)
Pitcher: Trevor Decker (UC San Diego)
Most Valuable Player: Vance Albitz (UC San Diego)